By Brandon Minister, Staff Writer

A paramount question of the last presidential election concerned the War on Terror. Neither candidate appeared to support the status quo. John McCain argued for a firmer commitment to our position in Iraq, upwards of 100 years if necessary.

Opposing the effort was Barack Obama, who argued for a time frame for withdrawal from Iraq and for opening a dialogue with Iran. To offset what might appear a hasty wrapping up of the American offensive in the War on Terror, Obama supported an increase in activity in Afghanistan. Far from cutting and running, candidate Obama appeared to be shrewdly allocating resources for a more successful outcome.

Now that his presidency is in its second year, any guiding principle directing Obama’s prosecution of the War on Terror appears incredibly well disguised.

Firstly, the nation is no longer in a “War on Terror,” the phrase having been neatly removed from the administration’s vocabulary. Divorcing military action from the terrorism it is designed to stymie threatens to undermine public support on all fronts, not just those that displease the genteel class.

Secondly, the public gesture has replaced the private victory. On Sept. 20, 2001, then-President George W. Bush said, “Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes visible on TV and covert operations secret even in success.”

President Obama has turned this on its head, specializing in meaningless public gestures, such as his Jan. 22, 2009 “closing” of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, which is still open.

Throughout last August and September, in debates over troop strength in Afghanistan, Obama attempted to appear as a cutter of the Gordian knot. In actuality, he only managed to lowball his generals’ troop level requests for what he had previously proclaimed his most important anti-terror operation.

And this month, Obama unilaterally scaled back the role of nuclear weapons in American military plans, hardly the type of statement that deters continued nuclear armament by North Korea and Iran.

Thirdly, the administration seems to not even know who the enemy is. A foreign national captured on foreign soil is slated to have a domestic civilian trial. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be afforded all the Constitutional protections of an American citizen in a New York courtroom.

Meanwhile, an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, has been green-lit for targeted assassination.

Anwar al-Awlaki was born in New Mexico, something that used to mean a higher level of Constitutional protection than that afforded the Kuwaiti-born Mohammed.

The 2008 election was not a referendum on the War on Terror. Americans have seen that when we do not define the battlefield, our foes do it for us, usually in our airports and office buildings. When we do not fight with our soldiers, we are forced to fight with our passengers and cubicle workers.

The electorate supported a candidate who promised a more intelligent furthering of the war, not its wholesale abnegation.

Between the president’s public statements, troop provisions and prosecution aims, any semblance of driving policy has been replaced, seemingly with pulling slips of paper out of a hat.